Are You Stoked For Our Beach Ball Yet?

We know that dressing for a theme party isn’t always a walk on the beach, so the styling department here at WORN thought we would help out all you sunbathing Betties and fun-loving Freddies planning on attending our issue 14 launch party. Myself and new style intern, Rachel, took a break from hanging out at the surf shack (read: the overheated WORN office) and visited some local Toronto shops to serve up a few inspiration outfits for Saturday’s Beach Ball.

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Here Come the Bridesmaids

It was like being caught in an undertow of taffeta, sequins, and snarky sales-woman infested waters. Every ill-fitting strapless dress my mother, grandmother, and even mother of the groom threw at me, pushed me further and further under, as I held my breath, nodding and smiling at each shiny and overpriced gown suggested. Shopping for bridesmaid dresses is an inherently flawed process—not to mention shopping for bridesmaid dresses with a matrilineal train following your every step. The idea behind squeezing several (or in our case, fortunately, two) women into the same dress has always baffled me, and I feel it has remained an unspoken—and, in some cases, blatant—joke on the entire bridal industry. With upwards of 14 sizes between myself and the other bridesmaid, I figured the most difficult part would be finding a silhouette that we both felt confident in—the thought of pleasing the entire bridal party at the same time never really crossed my mind.

My sister selected her wedding gown with minimal objection. Years of guilty Say Yes to the Dress and Wedding SOS pleasures under my rhinestoned belt, I knew how important it was to take the back seat when it came to dress selection, Ohhhing and Awwing at every ruffle and lace-up bodice and puckered skirt. When she finally found one that she loved, my family followed suit, telling her what a beautiful choice she had made.

Grandmother and Grandfather of the author and their bridesmaids, 1959

Weeks later, it was my turn. With the help of my fellow bridesmaid, I zipped up the back of the boat-neck cocktail dress. The sample I tried was clearly too big for me, a fact that I wished to exaggerate by putting on a pair of satin pumps that on my 7.5 feet, looked like they belonged to RuPaul circa 1992. As my sister (who had no strong opinion on what dress we wore) opened the door, I was hit with a wall of silent indifference, bordering on dissatisfaction; standing on a foot-tall pedestal, I never felt smaller. As the door closed, my mother’s question, “that’s the one she likes?” echoed in my sartorial lobe.

If hours of pillaging my closet before simply running down the street to get hot chocolate from that handsomely bearded barista had convinced me that it wasn’t myself who I dressed for, this experience taught me the contrary. Though my mother’s comment and the general lackluster response to the dress hurt, in the end, it didn’t alter my decision. If this was the dress I felt best in, this was the dress I would wear.

A friend once noted a defense mechanism I unknowingly reverted to when showing him a new garment I had purchased. Before giving him—or anyone, for that matter—the chance to state an opinion on whatever splendid trappings lay before them, I would blurt out, “Well, I like it”— simultaneously affirming my confidence in the garment’s beauty and shutting out potential naysayers. Though I didn’t verbalize this in the moment, the sentiment stands firmer than any starched crinoline or organza swatch. Like the old saying goes, “No one puts Baby in a corner.” And no one—not mothers, grandmothers, or saleswomen—puts Casie in a bridesmaid dress she doesn’t like.

text by Casie Brown

Rachel Wornette

I’m Rachel and I’m tall. I love to eat food and listen to country music. I always laugh at my own jokes and I love cats—even though I don’t have one. I study fashion at Ryerson and love every second of it. Normally, I live my life flying by the seat of my pants (or skirt) and make decisions at the drop of a hat (or cute scarf). I love to learn and am always on the hunt for new information and ideas. I am finding that at this point I am in a state of change, and my sense of style is growing and morphing. I like excitement, but hate loud noises.

It all started when I was about 12 years old. I was a lanky, quiet, awkward child and I found escape in my mothers Chatelaines. The women on those pages were graceful, put together, chic, and elegant. The obsession grew, and I began tearing out pages, which is when my mom got me my first subscription—so I could tear up my own magazines. I am now an organized hoarder of publications and keep every magazine I buy. Basically, working here at WORN is a way to satisfy my obsession, and allow myself to be around more magazines.

Current Inspirations:

Plaid Magazine
This magazine is a small publication that comes out of Toronto. It is put out twice a year, and features awesome photos and local designers. They also profile bigger designers, giving the readers an inside scoop. It also has a few opinion columns, music, and gallery reviews. I mainly love this magazine for the gorgeous photos that are inside. I definitely rip out a lot of pages from this one.

Pretty Dresses in the Laundry
This Tumblr, which is now its own website, is a photo-blog that I am infatuated with. They choose dreamy photos that have a sense of whimsy. Just like in the title, the photos feature gorgeous and girly dresses and girls that are young and free. I mainly like this blog because it transports me to another place, where girls can run free through fields in beautiful ball-gowns. ‘Cause that never happens in real life.

Man Repeller
The Man Repeller is a woman who writes a blog about fashion. Not the typical style blog, she is hilarious about what she wears and takes a great approach to high fashion trends. She created the term “Man Repeller” which basically means dressing in a way that repels men with its obscurity and general weirdness. Her sense of humor is spot-on, and she gets front row access to some pretty big shows—so you get both!

Value Village
I am not sure if this counts as inspiration… but I’m in love with Value Village. I go there to run my fingers through rows and rows of preloved cotton button-up shirts and soft leather balmorals. I think about who owned the old prom dresses and wedding gowns, and about how someone loved them. I like to feel like my wardrobe has a story behind it. And I also go there to people watch, because Value Village shoppers are great.

photography by Casie Brown

The Times They Aren’t a-Changin’

Either he’s dead, or my watch has stopped. – Groucho Marx

There have been a few moments in my sartorial lifespan when strangers have been left dumbfounded by the impracticality of my choices. While most of these revolve around weather—wearing shorts in the midst of a snow storm, for example (I happen to find tights an acceptable substitute for pants, thank you)—there is one particular accessory that winds people up. In my experience, the wristwatch is an unmatched example of an object in which fashion and functionality are expected to keep perfect time.

My first encounter in this wristy business occurred just over a year ago, at an estate sale. As I handed over five dollars to the elderly woman behind the cashbox, she commented on how darling the white leather band and face of my watch was, and how it only needed a change of battery. “Oh, I don’t need it to actually work,” I replied to her disapproving frown. A year later, I was at an antique mall with my mother. By that time the charming white band is waiting in a wooden jewelry box to be repaired, and my wrist is bare. Among the cluttered shelves of collectables, I came across a carrot coloured watch box, with three delicate wristwatches inside, “Timex Electric” printed on the cream lining. Snapping the lid closed, I ran to show my mother, who couldn’t believe I had found three working watches for $6. “Oh, they don’t actually work.” I cringed slightly to hear myself reiterating the same speech. By the time we left the mall, the minutes I’d spent explaining that I regard the watches as objects of ornamentation and not utility almost outnumbered those on a Rolex.

In a world where our iPhones might as well be surgically implanted into our palms, and the twitch of a fingertip can tell you the time in Yakutsk—that’s in Siberia, F.Y.I.—what use do we have for a functioning watch if not for its jaunty addition to an outfit? Additionally, for the more sentimentally inclined there is something charming about a stalled second-hand. Like putting a photograph into a locket, our dead watches have, quite literally, the capability of freezing a memory in time. I regularly glance at the hands beneath the glass and think back to what my own hands were doing at that time yesterday, last week, or even a year ago.

While for tick-tock-less enthusiasts like myself, this argument may seem straightforward, when brought up to a panel of time-conscious Wornettes, the debate became divided. Many blamed the inevitable aggravation that would present itself when, for example, while waiting for your perpetually late friend outside Starbucks, you look down to your wrist only to be greeted by a blank face. While that’s an acceptable argument, I was surprised to receive this reaction from a group of people who spend hours drooling over the meticulous folds of a McQueen gown and have a library full of books lamenting the validity of fashion as an art. Why appreciate the beading of a vintage Dior gown that crumbles to dust if lightly touched, but disregard the craftsmanship of a time piece once its gears stop turning? Just because something loses its intended purpose doesn’t have to mean its beauty and the intricacies of its design are lost as well. Isn’t this aesthetic value enough to warrant use past the warranty?

text & photography by Casie Brown